By Daniel Gaffney
Primary schools in England are beginning to bring back more pupils, but over half of parents will continue to keep their children at home, surveys suggest.
Children in Reception, Years 1 and 6 are able to return, with many having been out of school for 10 weeks. The move comes as lockdown measures are eased in England, including groups of 6 being allowed to meet outside.
Ministers say opening schools will help with childcare for parents returning to work – and to help children catch up with missed lessons. From 15 June secondary pupils will start to return, in Years 10 and 12 – and there are plans for all primary years to go back for the last month of term.
Schools in Britain have been closed since March 20, when the lockdown was first announced. For the first time ever, GCSE and A-Level exams will not take place, but instead. be awarded in July based on mock exam data, individual assessment and prior attainment.
The reopening of schools will have many local variations – spread out over the next couple of weeks and with many schools making their own arrangements over which year groups return and for how many days a week.
However, although some children are now allowed to return to school, classrooms and playgrounds are set to remain empty due to concerns over pupil and teacher welfare.
The move to open schools is directly contradictory to the advice outlined by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). The group’s advice states that the most effective model for safely re-opening schools, is through initiating a rota system, through which children would alternate in and out of school on a weekly, or fortnightly basis.
By ignoring specific scientific advice, parents are left to wonder if the government’s decision to reopen schools is the specific one. At this moment in time people cannot get a hair cut, or visit a friend’s house, so are children being used as guinea pigs?